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UCL Grand Challenges

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Contact the team with any queries, for funding application advice or with ideas for partnerships.

Dr Ian Scott


Dr Ian Scott
UCL’s Director of Grand Challenges & Cross-Disciplinary Development


Ian joined UCL Research, Innovation & Global Engagement (formerly Office of the Vice-Provost for Research) in 2009, one year after the inception of the Grand Challenges programme.

Ian joined UCL from the Wellcome Trust (1987-2008), where he developed and managed UK and international collaborative grant schemes in the biomedical and cell sciences, population and reproductive health, mental health and neuroscience.

Ian’s background is in Biochemistry (BSc, Liverpool; PhD, Bristol), with postdoctoral research appointments at the University of Dundee, University of Helsinki, Abo Akademi and the MRC Developmental Neurobiology Unit.

E: ian.scott@ucl.ac.uk

Dr James Paskins


Dr James Paskins
Deputy Director of UCL Grand Challenges


James joined UCL in 2001 as a Research Fellow in the Department of Civil Engineering. His research work included children’s health and travel behaviour, accessible transport, urban design and wellbeing. He is a member of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Prior to joining the Grand Challenges team, James was the programme manager for Bridging the Gaps, an EPRSC funded project that encouraged cross-disciplinary solutions for urban sustainability. Before becoming the Deputy Director for Grand Challenges, he was the coordinator for the Grand Challenges of Sustainable Cities and Transformative Technology and the UCL London Agenda.

James holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster, and a PhD in Transport Studies from UCL; his thesis investigated the role of cognitive mapping skills in children’s mobility.

E: j.paskins@ucl.ac.uk

> More on The Six UCL Grand Challenges 

Katherine Welch


Katherine Welch
Deputy Director of Partnerships


Katherine joined the team in 2017 and is responsible for supporting UCL researchers and academics to connect their work with strategic partners across academia, policy, third sector and professional organisations. She is leading the UCL Grand Challenge programme on Artificial Intelligence and work and the centre for informed decision making, as well as joint collaborations with UCL Public Policy and the UCL Pro-Vice Provost UK.

Katherine was previously Deputy Director and Manager of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, establishing alongside the Director the Institute's research, teaching and engagement agendas. Prior to joining UCL, Katherine worked in the mining sector as a journalist and editor for global mining publication, Mining Journal.

Katherine has a first class honours in Geology and a Masters in Quaternary Science.

E: k.welch@ucl.ac.uk

> More on Partnerships

Nina Quach


Nina Quach
Head of Programmes for the Grand Challenges of Global Health and Human Wellbeing


Nina joined the team in 2018 and creates opportunities for researchers at UCL to collaborate on innovative and impactful cross-disciplinary projects. Nina is one of the hosts and producers of Disruptive Voices, a podcast that encourages critical thinking across a variety of topics. She also leads the organisation of the annual UCL-Lancet Lecture.  

Prior to joining UCL, Nina worked at Imperial College London to support consultancy and has also worked in a climate charity. 

Nina has a bachelor’s degree in Biology (Université Pierre et Marie Curie) and in Social Sciences (Sciences Po Paris), and a joint MSc in Environmental Sciences and Policy.

E: n.quach@ucl.ac.uk

> More on Grand Challenge of Global Health
> More on Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing 

Siobhan Morris


Siobhan Morris
Head of Programmes for the Grand Challenges of Cultural Understanding and Justice & Equality


Siobhan joined the team in July 2018 and is responsible for a broad portfolio working with academics and external partners to facilitate impactful research, cross-disciplinary innovations, and cross-sector collaborations. Siobhan conceived of and led the UCL-Resolution Foundation project Exploring Inequalities: Igniting research to better inform UK policy and has published widely on structural inequalities. She is also a host of Disruptive Voices, Grand Challenges' podcast series.

Prior to joining UCL, Siobhan worked at Birkbeck, University of London on a Wellcome-funded research project and as Centre Manager for the Centre for the Study of Internationalism, and more broadly has experience in leading award-winning research projects, academic centres, and public engagement activities.

Siobhan has an MA (Hon) and an MSc in History from the University of Edinburgh.

E: siobhan.morris@ucl.ac.uk

> More on Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding
> More on Grand Challenge of Justice and Equality

Sophie Mepham


Sophie Mepham

Head of Programmes for Sustainable Cities and Transformative Technology

Sophie holds a BA in History of Art with Museum Studies and an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies (AHRC funded) from UCL, where her studies focused on interactions with urban heritage in post-conflict cities. She recently completed a secondment as Centre Manager of the UCL Urban Laboratory, a cross-disciplinary research centre for the study of cities and urbanisation.

She previously worked on cultural development projects with the British Council in both the UK and Oman, in education NGOs in the Middle East, and on heritage preservation projects in Iran and Afghanistan for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Sophie has been an English Language teacher in Palestine, Hungary and Japan, and a forest schools practitioner in Leeds, UK. Her interests span environmental sustainability, cultural heritage, urban design and social-justice issues.

E: sophie.mepham@ucl.ac.uk

> More on Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities
> More on Grand Challenge of Transformative Technology